Meet Team WAFA.

For our final introduction post we meet our 3 firefighters who make up Team WAFA (Wales Antarctic Fire Angels) led by Co-founder of the Antarctic Fire Angels, Georgina Gilbert;

Georgina Gilbert

Georgina has been a firefighter for 20 years and currently serves with South Wales Fire and Rescue service. She is an ambassador for gender equality and has an ambition to see more women striving to do whatever job they want to do in life; always ensuring she is visible as a role model for young women wanting to embark on a career that doesn’t fit society’s stereotypes.

Everyone who knows her has been asking why she wants to do this challenge, why Antarctica? Her response is simple “we work in extreme environments, my job is not normal; so to highlight the need for greater mental health awareness and smashing gender stereotyping, what better than to push ourselves to the extreme to prove our point.” She wants the expedition to be an entirely honest fly on the wall log of their mental health throughout and you’ll be able to get all of those updates right here.

Georgina loves competing at high level and qualified to represent Great Britain’s Triathlon Team; she enjoys scaling mountains such as Elbrus and Kilimanjaro and is also head spokesperson for the ‘HeForShe’ campaign working towards gender equality for all. She has also recently been nominated for ‘Most Influential LGBT and individual in the Fire Service’ by Excellence in Fire and Emergency.

Her role model growing up was Wonder Woman and she never leaves the house without a Lego miniature in her pocket! It’s safe to say she has a powerful voice that has already helped support so many people and with even more to come from this future expedition.

Alison Kibblewhite

Alison is from Cardiff and went in to the banking industry when she left school; she always knew she wanted to do something a little bit more exciting and when her brother came home with an application form to be a firefighter she applied to!

In January 1995 she joined the South Glamorgan Fire Service and was the first full time female firefighter. Since then she has risen from rank of Firefighter to Area Commander, Head of Operations for South Wales Fire and Rescue Service.

Since the age of 11 she has always been keen on fitness and has run all distances from 100 metres to marathons. She hopes to complete her first ultra-marathon in 2020 as well as training for the Fire Angels expedition.

She is married and has a daughter, stepdaughter and stepson who is following in her footsteps. She is an extremely proud grandmother and of her seven grandchildren she is hopeful that one will join the next generation of firefighters. Alison is taking on this challenge to inspire her family to show that you can achieve anything that you dream of whilst testing her own personal, mental and physical boundaries.

Her claim to fame is a brief appearance on Strictly Come Dancing in 2018 with Green Watch Cardiff Central and is currently taking ballroom dance lessons with her husband in case she ever gets the chance to take part for real…!

Beci Newton

Beci became a firefighter in 2007 with South Wales Fire and Rescue and is currently Watch Manager in Caerphilly; however the path to her current position wasn’t easy.

She suffered Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACE’s) in a troubled childhood and teenage years that left her with Complex Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (CPTSD) which she deals with until this day. As a teenager she found and joined the Young Firefighters (Fire Cadets) where she found the support and help to get through her traumatic experiences.

She lives with her husband, son and daughter and with their Boarder Collie who have all sadly suffered due to her CPTSD; but with love, support and outstanding mental health care they are moving forwards to ensure they are living a happy and healthy life together. She can’t stress enough how grateful she is for her ‘long suffering’ husband.

As well as being a full time working mother of two, she is a local community councillor and a committee member of Caerphilly RFC. If and when she has spare time she likes to train with Caerphilly Triers, watch rugby and listen to music.

Beci was invited to be part of the AFA challenge and instantly fell in love with the idea. The prospect of being an even bigger role model to her children and inspiring them to be more and do more meant she had to say yes! This will undoubtedly be a huge personal challenge for her and will help to raise awareness of mental health and empower people along the way. Her 3 main goals for the expedition are; don’t die, don’t lose a body part and attempt to get a selfie with a penguin…I think the rest of the team might just strive for those too!

Now the introductions are done we will start to follow our 6 firefighters week by week, catching up with all the events and training they are doing, how they are feeling about the expedition and any exciting news they have to share.

Don’t forget the AFA are seeking sponsorship to support with training, equipment, nutrition, technology and specialist technical support. But more importantly to help raise funds for their nominated charities. If you want to give, as much or as little as you can, please click on this link; https://www.gofundme.com/f/antarctic-fire-angels

Written by Elissa.

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